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A new year lies ahead and it’s time for a fresh start. Experts give advice on how to make changes… and stick to them
Peter Ucko, director of the National Council Against Smoking
This is the perfect time to stop smoking.
* Decide on a date to quit and do it. Don’t “try”. Do it. New Year’s Day is a good day to start a new habit.
* Get free professional advice on quitting from the Quit Line at 011 720 3145, or speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
* Ask yourself: “Why do I want to quit?” Write down the reasons. A few days into the quit attempt you will ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” If you do not have a good answer, you will go back to smoking. Remind yourself why it is important to quit by reading your reasons.
* On Quit Day, throw away ashtrays, cigarettes and lighter. Don’t keep cigarettes on you.
* Beat the Urge – When you feel an urge to smoke, beat it by using the four Ds:
a. Drink a glass of water to wash the nicotine out.
b. Deep breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, and breathe out slowly. Do it five times to help you relax.
c. Distract yourself – keep busy to keep your mind off cigarettes.
d. Delay. An urge to smoke only lasts one to five minutes and then disappears. If the urge is not too strong, you can just wait for it to fade away.
* Change your routine. Avoid smokers, alcohol and coffee for the first week or two. Your old habits can trigger cravings.
* Support – Ask family and friends to help by not smoking near you or giving you a cigarette. Explain that you may be crankier than usual for a few days, so they should be supportive. When it gets tough, turn to them and the Quit Line for support.
* Get more exercise. This will help you relax.
* Take it one day, one urge, at a time. Focus on the present, let tomorrow take care of itself. The withdrawal symptoms start to improve after a day or two and most disappear after 10 to 14 days. It may take about three months before you are completely comfortable with your new non-smoking self, but the cravings will get weaker every day you do not smoke.
* Be positive and confident. Say to yourself: “I can do this!”, “My health is worth more to me than a cigarette” or “I control my craving, my craving doesn’t control me”.
With every day, month and year of being free of tobacco, your risk of serious diseases reduces, until the risk is almost the same as that of a non-smoker.
If this is your first time stopping smoking or the seventh, it doesn't matter. What matters is your willingness to choose a better life by investing in your health for 2013.
* See www.againstsmoking.co.za or Quit Line 011 720 3145
Dr Akashni Maharaj, director, Bellair Psychology Centre
Many of us make resolutions and by the second week of January, we are back to old habits.
We are creatures of comfort, and change is what we fear the most, so we do what we do best – we choose to stay in the comfort zone and revert to old patterns and old habits.
The only way to change this behaviour pattern is to fight the inner battle with positive affirmations and affirmations of worth: “I am worthwhile, I deserve the best, I can change, I have the ability to follow through and I can do it.”
Looking back on the past year, ask yourself:
* What do I want and need? Wanting is not the same as needing.
* What is most important for me?
* What is it that needs to change and what do I wish to keep?
* Old habits, like old clothes, need to go. Am I prepared to let them go and what purpose do they serve for me right now? Did it add value to my life or not?
Choose five things you’d like to change about yourself, like losing weight, quitting smoking, exercise, budgeting better, spending more time with the kids, spending less money, and so on.
Put them in order of preference/importance and essential need.
Once you have done that, choose the three main ones and resolve to take those on.
The other two you keep for “later”.
The first step is to see whether you can fit it into your life.
* When and how will you be able to do it?
* Can you make it happen?
* What sacrifices would you need to make?
Does your schedule allow for additions such as this and would you be able to commit to it for at least the first three months? If you can answer that as a yes, then you have your first resolution set up in you plan of action for 2013.
The biggest mistake people make is taking on too many things to do at one time and not researching the viability of it all.
* See www.akashni maharaj.co.za or call 031 459 1940.
Francisca Venter, a product manager at Virgin Active
The number one reason people give for not exercising is lack of time, but you need to schedule 30 minutes a day in your diary, like any other appointment.
Any activity is beneficial - even housework and gardening.
The main thing is to do movement that works up a light sweat for 30 minutes.
Don’t do too much too soon.
If you haven’t exercised in years, start gently and build up.
* Set realistic goals: Base your goals on your current health status and not where you last ended your training.
* Start slowly, adjust and adapt: Don’t do too much at first and remember to rest between workout days. Your body gets stronger with rest.
Ensure you’re eating properly, because good nutrition in conjunction with exercise goes a long way.
* Commit to a quarterly challenge: Concentrate on building on the smaller process goals to achieve the bigger outcome.
Reward yourself after every goal reached, which will give you something to look forward to.
* Train with a friend who has similar goals to keep you motivated.
* Time your training: If you are not a morning person, don’t put yourself through the pain of dragging yourself to the gym before work. Increase your training days gradually. If you are training twice a week, aim to increase where possible. Avoid committing to six days a week and then feeling demotivated when you don’t get around to it.
* Try group exercises: Working in groups has been proven to increase compliance so identify a group exercise class that works for you, like Zumba.
* Dump despondency: It is not the end of the world if you miss a day of training or spoil your diet. Just get back on track as soon as possible.
* Ask an expert: Speak to a fitness instructor, personal trainer or informed friend when planning your programme. Join a programme that focuses on your individual needs.
* Visualise achieving your goal: Create a strong mental image of what that moment will feel like – there is no greater motivation!
* If you move, you improve. Take the stairs instead of the lift or ditch the trolley and carry your shopping to your car parked far from the entrance to the mall.
* See www.virginactive.co.za
Isabelle de Grandpre, professional organiser and CEO of Neat Freak
* Simplify your clutter by examining whether all the “stuff” you have is adding value to your life or causing you stress. It’s wonderful to buy new things and keep old souvenirs, but if it limits your capacity to be happy, get rid of it. You can give to charities or sell the items.
* Simplify memories. We all have those “things” that we can’t bear to part with and that’s okay unless it’s taking over your life. Remember memories aren’t held in things, so this year archive old letters, wrap and box the trinkets in the house that aren’t your style but you want your children to have, box up clothes (with mothballs and tissue paper), and if you have an attic/garage with space, store the items in labelled boxes. Or pack away in bulk storage bags, available from Neat Freak.
* Simplify family life. To prevent clashes in schedules and missing important events, set up a message system that your family can adopt. A magnetic board or clipboards for each family member would do the trick and would surely save you the stress of finding out at 8pm that you have to supply goodies for the cake sale the next day.
* Simplify your to-do list. If you make tasks part of your daily routine (and don’t procrastinate) you will simplify your daily life. File regularly, do the laundry more often or weed the garden whenever you can. Do this for a week or so and soon it will be routine and “piles” will be banished.
* Simplify your time. Start saying no to events and activities that hold no interest for you and your available time will multiply in a flash. For those activities you do participate in, start scheduling realistic pockets of time towards them. Planning ahead will also simplify your time.
See www.neatfreak.co.za or call 082 673 9740. - Daily News